A select group of Upper School students will embark on a 10-day trip to Zambia and South Africa over the March break as part of Nightingale's Open Doors K–XII leadership program. The trip marks the first of many leadership exchange excursions that will be offered to students who express interest in deepening their understanding of women’s issues—particularly issues of leadership, health care, education, and community development—and will include meetings with a host of pathbreaking leaders in the realm of women's philanthropy and education reform, including Becky Sykes from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, Patricia Ndhlovu from the YWCA Zambia, Grace Mwila from Room to Read, Wanga Saili from World Vision Zambia, Douglas Chiwama from Women and Law in Southern Africa-Zambia, and Agness Mumba Shipanuka from Forum for African Women Educationalists of Zambia. History Department Head and Open Doors Director Dr. Heidi Kasevich and author and activist Amy Richards will co-lead this exciting trip.
So why a trip to Zambia and South Africa? Located at the crossroads between Southern and East Africa, Zambia is one of the safest and most welcoming countries in Africa and the ideal place to explore themes of feminism, sustainability, and development in contemporary Africa. While it is one of the poorest countries on the continent, it is also one of the most politically stable; with over 70 spoken languages and ethnic groups, Zambia is an excellent example of tribal harmony and religious cohesion. The country also boasts some of Africa’s best wildlife reserves and is home to the magnificent Victoria Falls. In addition to the time they spend in Zambia, our students will have the opportunity to travel to South Africa to take advantage of a gracious invitation to visit the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, as well as the Apartheid Museum.
The goals of the trip itself are to share resources, to learn by experience, and to better explore women’s issues as they are lived, which is not always consistent with the ways in which they are reported. Participating students will step outside their comfort zones to demystify what international issues look like up close and how change is often created through small steps, not always through global campaigns. As a result, we hope the girls will return with a newfound network of allies, a vast collection of resources, and perhaps most paramount, an exposure to problems and solutions and how we can individually and collectively be a part of that human chain of positive change.
This program will very much be an exchange—of ideas, of cultural practices and customs, of problems and their solutions. As much as the young Nightingale women and the young women they will meet in South Africa and Zambia are divided by regions and perhaps resources, they will come together through a shared experience of girlhood.